Comedy night at The Underground Restaurant

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
"Have you got any more marmite?" I ask. "Are you kidding?" Ms M opens a drawer. Ha - she ain't called Ms Marmitelover for nothing you know!
Marmite, pinenut and parmesan palmiers
Sweetcorn cakes with rice wine vinegar dip
(the recipe for the sweetcorn cakes? Don't worry - it's in the book coming out soon.)

What an amazing idea - why go out to a comedy club when you can bring it to your own front room? I loved the idea of the last comdey night back in September - comedy doesn't get more intimate than all being in the same dining room - much more down to earth. Who needs a stage? So this time round, asked if I wanted to help out at this one I jumped at the chance.

When I was asked for menu ideas I thought along the lines of the last one where the food was a 'joke' - nutty soup, gnocci gnocci who's there, Stinking bishop & Wensleydale (Wallace & Gromit's fave cheese of course) & custard pie. What fun. But how to follow that?

Curry in a hurry - plantain curry

Driving between Lechlade and Blockley early on a foggy Monday morning in the middle of November (Lakes by Yoo looked just like you'd slipped in to a Tarkovsky film - delicious) I drove past a pub advertising a curry night - 2 for £10 and remembered my curry in a hurry. Adam still wants to do a rhyming menu one day.
This one was plaintain curry that Ms M had made the day before - is much better the next day when the flavours have developed. Last time she had made it with banana and served in the skin (comedy - banana skins?). This time she tried it with plaintains. Because they are firmer it doesn't break down so much - better texture. This is a proper curry - takes a long time to make - but is so worth it. Unfortunately some of the guests couldn't make it to the evening due to snow affecting trains, so there were a few left to try. Lucky us! Real curry like this is such a world apart. What was that curry book again?

Moules in minutes - Thai style mussells with sweet potato wedges

But what could we do for a starter?.... I rolled through some other rhymes as I left the fog bank behind and the late autumn sun lit up the Cotswold hills. What about Meals in minutes >>>>> Moules in minutes. In the end we swapped it round so the moules became the main course. I had recently done a thai night, so still had the thai flavours alive and found this recipe. Mussells and chips? You can't beat a classic. I've still got this thing about sweet potato either grilled or chips after barbecuing them for the first time back in the summer. So these went in the aga earlier in the day so we could have the heat later in the evening for cooking the plaintains.
Next time I do the thai me up thai me down salad I'll dry salting the carrots and mouli first to take off some of the water before adding the dressing. Live and learn!

A nice cup of brie

The cheese course was easy. I'd been wanting to try the cup of brie since January when I made the truffled macaroni bries. We went for this recipe. Rich, but seriously tasty. St. John's sourdough made the perfect accompaniment. It's true what they say about it - it's awesome. So need to try sourdough. Hopefully find time next year.

Brie came from Borough market - this was the real deal. Forget trying to do this with supermarket cheese.

English breakfast - black pudding with fried egg, ketchup & OJ

Dessert? Totally stumped. Couldn't think of any more rhymes - what rhymes with dessert or pudding? There is my 'Dessert Warefare' idea - but I'm saving that for another day. Then again pudding... pudding.... black pudding?
I remembered this post from the British Larder last year, and how similar it was to our age old family Jul Kake recipe.

Christmas was a big cooking time in our house back in the day and when it came to Christmas cake, mum's Guiness cake was all very well, but if only for the marzipan and icing - the actual cake, I could either take or leave it. Leave it more often (sorry if you're reading this :') ). No - it was the Norwegian Jul Kake which I saved myself for - chocolate, creamed coconut and eggs layered with biscuts, dried fruits, nuts.... oh and fruit jelly sweets. We have Norwegian family friends and had spent Christmas over there when I was 5 and Adam 3 months in 6ft of snow. This chocolate Jul kake sure warms you up after hours of snowplay!
Tradionally we would layer these up in a 1/2 lb loaf tin so it looks nice and neat - but here it was just mixed all in one and rolled into a 'black pudding'.
What do you have with an english breakfast? Fried egg (aka fried egg sweets), a glass of OJ (aka orange sorbet - link to recipe here) and ketchup (aka raspberry coulis). Fun - no?

It's the real eggs in it that make the difference.

See more from the evening on Ms Marmitelover's blog post.

In London at Christmas Eve - why not try out the original Underground Restaurant? -

Oh yes - one last thing. That rice wine vinegar? Home made apparently. What an amazing flavour!

1001 Kitchen Tips #62 - Make your own stock cubes

Wednesday, December 08, 2010
These were made back in September following this pig roast. After everyone has had their fill of the pig roast I slice up whatever is left and leave it in the fridge for guests to eat later or to take home for the next day. Sometimes the hosts/ guests like to keep the bones - dogs love them - or I take the remaining bones away and use them for stock. Roasting the hog for 6 - 8 hours does makes the most amazing stock!

Keep the stock going for 6 - 8 hours so all the flavour comes out of the bones. Then strain and bring it back to the boil and reduce it till it is a thick glace. Pour this into a baking tray, cover with greaseproof paper (why? see this tip here) and let it chill then refrigerate it till set hard. Cut into squares and freeze in a freezer proof bag.

Next time you are making a sauce or casserole just drop the stock cube in. When melted bring the sauce/ casserole back to the boil for 30 seconds (safety reasons).

You don't have to have bones from a whole hog roast of course - if you're making these at home every time you have a roast, or if you've been cutting meat off the bone prior to cooking, freeze the left over bones till you have a sufficient amount to fill your stock pot and you can make a batch all in one go.

South American beans on toast

They say chefs have some of the worst eating habits - must be something to do with the hours. You can spend all day making amazing food for your customers, but when it comes to cooking for yourself it can be quite a different thing. I often find I'm eating sometime between 1 and 4am when I get home - if you don't you're on go slow later in the day.

My great aunt's south american pie (corned beef, baked beans, tomato, cheesy mash) was often a pre-cub night snack when I was young - great fast food & also great when camping.
So for last night's (well this early morning's) scooby snack I just adapted it slightly to make an even quicker version - soft bap with corned beef flashed under the grill so the corned beef warms & softens. Then some of my beer baked beans warmed & put on top finished with grated St. Kenelm & reflashed under the grill. Subway would be proud........